After all the talk that Cole Hamels might go to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs or the Rangers, we officially have a winner of the grand prize of starting pitchers in the free agent market. The Rangers picked up Hamels in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. Along with Hamels the Rangers will get relief pitcher Jake Diekman.
Jun 1, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) catches the ball as he walks back to the mound in a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets won in the eleventh inning 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
We all know about Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP who has seen better years than the one he is having this season. His 3.64 ERA is his highest since 2009 when he finished with a 4.32 ERA. He also has struggled over the last couple months, with an ERA of 3.94 in June and over five this month. His WAR for the year is 2.8, also his lowest since 2009.
Diekman is seemingly just another mediocre arm in the Rangers bullpen. Last season Diekman had 18 holds in 73 appearances, a 5-5 record and 100 strikeouts with an ERA of 3.80. This season in 41 games he has pitched 36.2 innings with just 49 strikeouts and an ERA of 5.15.
The Rangers send starter Matt Harrison to Philadelphia, along with prospects Jorge Alfaro (catcher), Nick Williams (outfield) and right handed pitchers Alec Asher and Jake Thompson.
As far as who won the trade, we won’t know for some time. It depends on how well the prospects end up playing for Philadelphia, which may take a while. But I was happy the Rangers didn’t have to pay a king’s ransom to get him, as I thought they might. The Rangers didn’t have to give up any of their premiere prospects—Joey Gallo, Chi Chi Gonzalez or Nomar Mazara. Alfaro was the top catching prospect in the Rangers system, and considering the (lack of) production the Rangers have gotten from that position this season, I think he will be missed the most some day in the future. Robinson Chirinos is hitting just .225 this season (but does have nine dingers) while Tomas Telis and Carlos Corporan are below the Mendoza line with averages of just .182 and .178.
I am not thrilled about midseason trades for starting pitchers from the National League. It brings back memories of the Matt Garza trade. This is a bit different different because Garza was a half-year rental player that bolted for the Brewers after a very lackluster stint in Texas, Hamels is under contract through 2018. But like Garza I think Hamels has seen his best days, and will not be a top pitcher anymore. Also adjusting to the American League can be hard for pitchers from the NL, and I think Hamels will struggle much like Garza did. Hamels has not fared well in interleague play throughout his career, with an ERA of 4.73 in interleague games and an 8-15 record. Now, he’s facing AL offense full time. Let’s hope he can run those numbers around.
More from Texas Rangers News
- Early 2023 MLB mock draft has Texas Rangers selecting an Ohtani-lite
- 3 Texas Rangers outfield trade targets not named Bryan Reynolds
- Did Jacob deGrom really mean what he said at his Texas Rangers press conference?
- Martin Perez accepting the qualifying offer looking like solid deal for the Rangers
- 4 outfielders the Texas Rangers can still pursue this winter
What I hope he can do is be a solid number two guy behind Yu Darvish next season, and fill out the rotation around those two guys. If he can do that, I imagine things could be fine. With Yovani Gallardo (more on him later), Colby Lewis and Nick Martinez/Martin Perez in the fold now that’s not a shabby rotation, with Chi Chi Gonzalez pushing for starts in 2016.
This trade means the Rangers are serious about contending this season. But is Hamels going to make enough of a difference to get them back into the playoff race? After defeating the Yankees on Wednesday night, the Rangers sit eight games behind Houston in the AL West and four games behind Minnesota for the second wild card, with the Orioles, Rays, Blue Jays, White Sox and Tigers all between them and the Twins. I also think this means that Gallardo is going to stay in Texas the rest of the year. I was confident he would be traded, but possibly come back in the winter. Now I think he stays. But if the Rangers expect to contend, they are going to have to play better at home. Out of their first 100 games, 55 were on the road, where they won 31. Out of 45 home games, the Rangers have just 17 wins. With two months left in the season anything can happen in a competitive AL wild card race. But it would take a great remaining two months and slumps from both Houston and the Angels to get Texas back in the AL West race. Should be a fun last 62 games.